Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the go-ahead for legalizing medical marijuana, while promoting tax relief measures and touting New York’s economic successes, in his last State of the State address before running for re-election.
“In three years, [we] have reversed decades of decline,” the governor said, referring to the state’s transformation from a $10 billion deficit to the $2 billion surplus during that period.
By spending less, the state can now tax less, Cuomo said, and will do so through a $2 billion package of tax relief proposals.
A renter’s tax credit would offer a refundable personal income tax credit to those who make under $100,000.
Cuomo proposed a reform to the estate tax, which, like the federal government would exempt the first $5.25 million of a person’s estate, instead of estates valued below $1 million, as the state does now.
Additional measures would provide relief on property and business taxes, and help simplify the tax code.
As anticipated, Cuomo called for a program that would research the feasibility of medical marijuana in New York.
He will use existing statutory authority, enacting an old law which established the Antonio G. Olivieri controlled substances therapeutic research program, to launch a pilot medical marijuana research program that allows up to 20 hospitals to provide medical marijuana to patients being treated for serious illnesses.
Focusing specifically on the New York City region, Cuomo said the borough’s airports were in need of care, particularly LaGuardia, which he said was ranked as the worst airport in the country.
Cuomo proposed modernizing LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports, by having the state assume management responsibility from The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
The governor also stressed the importance of education investments in his address, particularly in technology in the classroom and universal, full-day pre-k.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing for universal, full-day pre-k in the city, which would be funded by taxing the rich.
“I think it was very promising that the governor laid it out as a goal for the whole state,” the mayor, who attended the address, said in a press conference afterwards.
When asked if there was a conflict between his proposed tax raises and Cuomo’s tax relief package, de Blasio said that the state and the city each has its “own vision” when it comes to taxes.
Cuomo, despite critics who disagree with him for the need for ethics reform, promised to continue fighting political corruption.
“There has been a string of bad acts on almost a daily basis,” he said, proposing new anti-bribery and corruption laws.
“I believe the more trust we have from the public, the more we can do.”